Welcome to Tidbits from the Field, a knowledge base repository to share information, experience, and perspective on the Microsoft Power Platform.

D365 for Sales, Products and OneNote Integration

Companies that sell complex products often include detailed spec sheets for their products. These spec sheets will many times include pictures, tiny type, videos, specifications and pop out messages. This type of format is not always the easiest to translate into text within a database. Shift your thinking .. 

In the world of Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Sales you have some interesting options. Take for instance the Office 365 integration to OneNote. A OneNote page can align to a product in the product catalog. OneNote easily allows you to capture the specs, add pictures, include URLs and more.

Just paste in the Specs 

Pump Specs
  


Products, 3D 360 Degree Mixed Reality and Product Visualize

At the Microsoft Business Applications Summit this week I had a chance to take a look at and discuss Microsoft Product Visualize. I loved seeing how it worked, but more importantly I had dug into the details of where data is stored and how is it created. 

So first What is Microsoft Visualize? 

Consider the Microsoft Dynamics Product Catalog. You have a list of products associated with an opportunity and each item has a description. This doesn't really offer the most efficient way to quickly grasp all that you want to know. We then consider the flat, 2D ability to add a picture. Great! Wonderful, but can we do more? This is where Product Visualize for Dynamics 365 comes into plan. 

I have my Tablet (Surface/iPad/etc), I am at a client site and I am discussing an opportunity that includes a number of products. I might even have two similar products, because my prospect or client has not decided on what they want.  Product Visualize offers not only a 3D Image of the product, but it offers the ability to show a full 360 Degree 3D View of the product depending on how the "user" (myself, the prospect or customer) moves the tablet. 

So how does Product Visualize technically do this? 

Product Visualize uses a product .glb file stored in an integrated SharePoint library. The library that can be configured when Dynamics 365 is setup and configured. The file contains the 3D model saved in GL Transmission Format (glTF).  gITF offers the ability to store such information such as node hierarchy, cameras, materials, and animations and a GLB file is the binary version of .GLTF files.  

Note: For those of you who are old hands at gITF and glb, please feel free to expand on this.. 

BUT how do we actually get the images and the data for the GLB file? 

I have my product and I have Dynamics 365 for Customer Engagement, but I don't have a glb file. This is where the growing momentum in partnerships between the new worlds within the graphical industries and the ever evolving world of customer engagement becomes a huge win/win.  

 


Dartmouth Lake Sunapee Linux Group Meeting (DLSLUG)

The first Thursday of the month the Dartmouth Lake Sunapee Linux Group meets over at Dartmouth to share knowledge and to geek it up a bit. They kick off their meeting with a meet up at Ramunto's in Hanover, NH and then the group wanders on over to a very cool room on Campus. (White Board, Black Boards, Projectors, Ivy League Classroom) 

Over pizza we discussed NTFS, FAT16, FAT32, files with embedded metadata and general buzz in the world of tech in the Upper Valley. We really do need more opportunities to do more of this around here. There are SO MANY hidden disconnected gems.

Once over at campus Lloyd presented nifties, first on what he has been doing with Python and (dare I mention the word, Microsoft) Azure. It is so thrilling for me to see these two worlds starting to bubble together in the quest for empowering great technology. There were questions, discussions and mind shifts, but good discussions. Even little old me was able to offer contributions.

We also discussed Jupyter .

"Project Jupyter is a non-profit, open-source project, born out of the IPython Project in 2014 as it evolved to support interactive data science and scientific computing across all programming languages."

With a heavy bent on large, concurrent, mathematical and statistical analysis needs. I was not able to add much to the discussions, but I love a chance to push myself out of my comfort zone. My Mom had her doctorate in statistics so in my baby years the word SAS often kicked around our household.  

Other Tidbits Shared 

Information on BASE

More Python Tips

working with distributed data and

using Selenium for things other than testing web applications. 

 


What's New: Microsoft Office 365, Outlook and LinkedIn

Given my curious nature in the world of what is new in technology, I regularly try to put some time into the new features, products and offerings coming out with the Microsoft Office 365 Offerings. 

They slide in these features so fast that I am often delightfully surprised. 

Today I took a look at http://Office.Live.Com/People

Microsoft made it easy for me to see a few of the items that were new by offering a "What is New" button on the top of the screen. I immediately noticed that I can now connect to my world of contacts on LinkedIn. I must admit I was delighted. It really is not easy to keep up with all the changes in everyone's quickly changing world. 

So if I open a contact in OUTLOOK,  I now have a tab for Linkedin, Click on the tab and if we are "linked" I can see information from Linkedin. I created a contact card for myself to show you what it looks like.

AnneinOutlook with Linkedin

 


Simplicity in the face of Complex business needs

There is a reason that "Google" quickly became the go to for all things search. A simple white screen with one box. Type what you are looking for and a million results will follow. 

People do not need to be trained to use Google. (in general)

On the other hand if you do get trained in some of the search techniques or advanced search techniques amazing extra value is delivered (for instance, filtering occurs). What you don't want a million results? OK, fine tune your search criteria. What? There is a trick to that? Yes, there are advanced Google skills.

Now apply this same concept to the speed of technology change. OUCH!

"Everything is changing"

"I can't keep up"

"I learned something yesterday that is slightly different today"

These are some of the biggest challenges that business leaders face today. How do they manage the impact of change on their processes, their staff and with the technology products they so depend on? Change Management is one thought and change management is starting to be part of most all projects, BUT change management techniques also must adjust to the speed of today's change. 

Similarly to the shift from traditional marketing, to marketing with the impact of social. Change Management must also adapt to the world of the cloud and Software As a Service (SaaS). The technology world went from 2 year major upgrades to 1 year major upgrades to 6 month major upgrades to was there an upgrade? The SaaS drip, drip, drip software growth utopia.

Business needs software that can manage their complex needs, but they also need software that can be simplified and flexible. This is one of the interesting beauties of the Microsoft Dynamics 365 platform approach. The foundation is solid technology, proven technical, coding, database and design best practices, and the details are configurable. 

Can you purchase configured modules? Yes

Do you still want to configure them? Yes

Just as each user uses Outlook slightly differently, there are choices for how you might want to approach even the canned modules.  So how do you really get to that place of simplicity? This is where working with people becomes quite interesting.  In an ideal team, each team member contributes how they might approach a given problem and then the team and team leadership figure out the solution that makes the most sense for the audience. This ability to listen to how others might approach a problem is a key skill to keep in mind and one not always found.

I remember a side conversation with one of the geniuses I had the gift of talking with. He said it best .. When building an application sometimes we have to remember to build for the average person, not the vocal and more advanced member of the project team or solution matter expert (SME) audience. The person who is busy, who is focused on their work and who perhaps just wants to be empowered in their position without a lot of heavy training. 


So much new! Doing a Sandbox Reset

There is so much new; although, there is huge value in deeply understanding all that is old. Something I really, really appreciate about the Microsoft Platform. 

Anyway, I decided with so much new that it was time to do a really clean rebuild of my CRMLady instance. I have long used this ORG for various experiments, testing, and knowledge reinforcement. I also use it to totally understand how Microsoft communicates to their CRM Online customers. I am a customer.

The ORG has been a bit beat up over the years and it was showing it's wear and tear. Data was not much of a challenge in this ORG so I decided to do a full replace and start fresh. I wanted to do this without having to create a support ticket so I did a bit of reach out and research.

Low and behold the team over at Power Objects actually have a great blog post on the subject, complete with the steps on how to reset an ORG. I love the CRM Community, so much knowledge share and empowerment!!

So the first step was I needed to switch my Production ORG to a Sandbox ORG.

I did this through the new Microsoft Online 365 Azure Administration Center (https://portal.microsoftonline.com) which now allows you to pick from a selection of administrator centers. I went to the Dynamics 365 Administrator Center, Picked Instances, picked my instance and set it to a Sandbox. Once this was done I had the ability to choose the RESET button.

 Isn't it great when you want to get something done and you can just do it without a lot of hassle? 


Vocabulary! Model-Driven vs. Canvas in the world of PowerApps

I had the opportunity to answer a bunch of questions today and PowerApps ... Canvas Apps vs. Model-Driven Apps was key on the agenda. 

In my mind I think .. PowerApps = Dynamics or Model-Driven Apps and  Microsoft 365 + = CanvasApps, but alas I am not quite right. PowerApps actual applies to both. 

What I need to get straight in my head is Model-Driven apps are all the apps I have already built as part of a Dynamics 365 solution (or project). This includes creating apps as a "new" app or modifying an existing app that comes with one of the Microsoft Solutions. (Such as the Sales App). 

The next piece too ingrain in this thick skull is CANVAS apps. I have created a canvas app, but I have not had the chance to create one for an actual customer project. This little app starts from a slightly different interface and brings with it new. It is not that the new is difficult, it is just new. 

Others explain it as either starting with the "interface" (Canvas) vs. starting with the "data" (Model-Driven) AND if you want to watch a great little video on the subject this video is well worth the time to watch. Check this out from PragmaticWorks

Note: Please forgive me Andrew!

In my next post we will tackle other new vocabulary such as the Common Data Service (CDS) vs. the Common Data Model (CDM). 


Canvas Apps, Model-driven Apps, Getting started with all the new Power Platform buzz

You have heard all the buzz on the new Power Platform and you have seen many posts on PowerApps/Model-driven Apps and Canvas Apps. You have also upgraded your Microsoft Dynamics 365 CRM instance to v9.x either On-Premise or Online, but you are not sure where to get started with apps! 

This might be an interesting path:

1) If you are familiar with configuring Microsoft Dynamics 365 for CRM/CE then you might want to start by adding a Model-driven app to your one of your solution files.

A Model-driven app can be used in conjunction with what you are doing today (the classic menu) and there are some nice little short cuts to getting started. For instance you can create a Model-driven app using your current sitemap and/or a current solution file.

2) Once you get the hang of creating Model-driven apps (and there are some small little tricks) then perhaps it is time to dive into creating your first Canvas App. One of the differences between a Canvas App and a Model-driven app is that Canvas Apps tend to be focused on the Microsoft Stack first (think Microsoft 365) and Model-driven apps tend to be focused from a Dynamics 365 perspective (Think an app within a solution).

If you are empowered from learning online, you can get some nice step by step materials by working through some of the exercises on Microsoft Learning!  

If you prefer an in person type learning environment then you might want to attend the Business Applications Summit in Atlanta on June 10-11th or attend one of the App in a Day seminars in a city near you. 

 


Update for MS Dynamics 365 for CE On-Premise

In March there was a small update released for the Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Customer Engagement On-premise users.

Look for Version 9.0.3.7 Here

It includes some improvements for working with Microsoft Dynamics 365 on Google Chrome and a few other cumulative updates. 

DYN365CE Online gets updated almost weekly with these tiny patches, notice the last four digits of the version (v9.1.0000.3653) so the online folks don't need to think about this one. 

It is also worth noting that one of the bigger updates for the year  (APRIL 2019) is PACKED with cool and depth. You definitely want to get consuming and embracing the release notes for this release on your To Do List.  


XRMTOOLBOX - A Microsoft Dynamics 365 resource must have!

I have recently been checking out some of the other tools in the XRMTOOLBOX. 

If you have not discovered these tools and you are a Microsoft Dynamics Consultant or Developer, you definitely want to check them out. They make many of the manually intensive configuration steps much more efficient. Take for instance the need to create a set of views. You can use the XRMTOOLBOX tools to create one view and then replicate it to the others within an entity.

The XRMToolbox also includes a very long list of cool. 

Here is a short list of some favorites:

  • Bulk Workflow Execution
  • Document Template Export
  • FetchXML Record Counter
  • Manage N:N Relationships
  • View Layout Replicator
  • Bulk Default Setting of Personal Options/User Settings
  • Duplicate Rules Mover

  


Do you know where your bottleneck is? Microsoft Dynamics 365 for CE

Now that we are running in larger data centers with the power of Microsoft Azure and with hardware technology such as solid state storage (moving away from the limitations of rotating platters) we all want to take a deep breath and make a sigh of performance joy. 

Unfortunately when you eliminate one bottleneck the data moves to the next. Additionally bottlenecks are not just hardware.

Consider a rock wall layered in a stream of water, you remove the rocks blocking the water, and the water rushes to the next barrier. The same concept applies to data. 

If you are working with millions or hundreds of thousands of data records you might want to consider:

  • Performance Tune the Microsoft SQL Server Database (SQL Server gurus can appreciate this one!)
  • Adding MS SQL Server Indexes to your largest Entities.
  • Watching out or reviewing JavaScript (JavaScript is a language that allows developers to inadvertently and easily create application bottlenecks) Luckily OOB Dynamics 365 has been deeply tested for bottlenecks continuously over the years and has continued to pass with flying colors.
  • Consider Latency (Microsoft now offers data center distributed processing for their Worldwide Dynamics Customers, reducing the trips across the oceans)
  • Understand if you have a bottleneck and where it is (Dynamics actually ships with a Diagnostic tool to check latency and bandwidth: Use https://[your crm url]/tools/diagnostics/diag.aspx  
  • If you are hosting your own environment, you can also tap into the Microsoft Professional Field Engineering teams Performance Analysis and Tuning Services (the PFE Sustainability Engineers Rock) or
  • you might consider a powerful tool such as ThousandEyes:  https://blog.thousandeyes.com/monitor-dynamics-crm-performance/ and https://www.thousandeyes.com/solutions/dynamics-365-monitoring 

What are your favorite tips and tricks for performance? 

Oh and as a last note .. there are customers processing 100,000s of data records a DAY with the Microsoft Dynamics platform. The power is incredible with a little love.

 

 

 

 


Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Customer Engagement - Search

The following table provides a brief comparison of the four available search options in Microsoft Dynamics 365 for CE. Microsoft often provides many options for achieving the same goal (just look at all you can do with Outlook!)

The link to this information and to read more https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/dynamics365/customer-engagement/basics/search-and-find-header

Functionality

Relevance Search (Online Only, the power of Azure)

Full-text Quick Find (also called Categorized Search)

Quick Find

Advanced Find

Enabled by default?

No. An administrator must manually enable it under system settings.

No. An administrator must manually enable it under system settings.

Yes

Yes

Single-entity search scope

Not available in an entity grid. You can filter the search results by an entity on the results page.

Available in an entity grid.

Available in an entity grid.

Available in an entity grid.

Multi-entity search scope

There is no maximum limit on the number of entities you can search. Note: While there is no maximum limit on the number of entities you can search, the Record Type filter shows data for only 10 entities.

Searches up to 10 entities, grouped by an entity.

Searches up to 10 entities, grouped by an entity.

Multi-entity search not available.

Search behavior

Finds matches to any word in the search term in any field in the entity.

Finds matches to all words in the search term in one field in an entity; however, the words can be matched in any order in the field.

Finds matches as in a SQL query with “Like” clauses. You have to use the wildcard characters in the search term to search within a string. All matches must be an exact match to the search term.

Query builder where you can define search criteria for the selected record type. Can also be used to prepare data for export to Office Excel so that you analyze, summarize, or aggregate data, or create PivotTables to view your data from different perspectives.

Searchable fields

Text fields like Single Line of Text, Multiple Lines of Text, Lookups, and Option Sets. Doesn't support searching in fields of Numeric or Date data type.

All searchable fields.

All searchable fields.

All searchable fields.

Search results

Returns the search results in order of their relevance, in a single list.

For single-entity, returns the search results in an entity grid. For multi-entity, returns the search results grouped by categories, such as accounts, contacts, or leads.

For single-entity, returns the search results in an entity grid. For multi-entity, returns the search results grouped by categories, such as accounts, contacts, or leads.

Returns search results of the selected record type with the columns you have specified, in the sort order you have configured.

Wildcards (*)

Trailing wildcard supported for word completion.

Leading wildcard supported. Trailing wildcard added by default.

Leading wildcard supported. Trailing wildcard added by default.

Not supported.

 


Microsoft Dynamics 365 Portals with the awesome, unicorn loving, Colin and the incredible, Griffin loving, Robert Bailey

Tips and Thoughts

1) Is it the right technology for the need?

2) Have a solid design and a long term iteration and maintenance plan

3) Never forget about the customers, customer who might be using the portal.

4) Consider Identity and Authentication for the customers, customer, but also for portal versus Dynamics 365. 

5) Golden Keys: The right development team, the right methodology, the right relationships with the customers/users and their continued involving involvement. 

6) Graphics and Web Design are part of portal projects, pictures can communicate 1000 of the wrong words. 

7) Bring Joy

8) If Multilingual is a need, do it as part of PHASE I. It is harder to  add additional languages in later phases. 

 


Dynamics CRMUG FOCUS - Houston - Cracking open the brain with reminders and new tips shared.

The power of the user group is that listening to peers, experts, partners, consultants, business users, financial advisors and so many more, opens the mind to interesting ideas. 

CRM USER GROUP - FOCUS - in HOUSTON

9:49am and here are the first few tips 

1) Have you considered holding your sales team to task by using SLAs on LEADS, measuring when the lead was first contacted or when a lead reached a key milestone in the qualification stage? 

2) GOALS, so under appreciated and yet so powerful. Add goals in unique and creative ways to take full advantage of the complex hierarchy offered from this little feature. 

3) Task Flows : Originally for Mobile Only, but now embedded across the new UI. Take for instance OOB Follow-up to a meeting. A sexy dialog. 

4) DOCK your business process flow on the right side of your form so you can see the fields. Always learning, this is a cool one, although I thought a TAB approach might be useful as well. Some people like that old style form view. 

5) Did you know you can use an Out of the Box action to move a business process flow to the next stage automatically (so your user doesn't have to press next)? 

6) Has your partner added an APP or APPS to your configuration? If not, you are missing out.


Microsoft R&D guru's (The team you didn't know about that will change your experience with delivery)

Microsoft R&D guru's Grant Geiszler, Daren Turner, and Mike Huguet moved from guru/guru premier field engineers to an internal R&D team and have been working really hard for the last couple of years on a new toolset which provides automated UI testing, stability & performance checks on Microsoft Dynamics 365 solutions and instances. 

Catch the details at the Microsoft Dynamics 365 User Group Focus event in Houston March 11-12th at these sessions https://goo.gl/qYG8H8 & https://goo.gl/vFUuDV at hashtagUGFocus2019 .

To Register or to Learn More

https://www.ugfocus.com/focus/locations/houston  


The Cloud: The analysis and management of costs

There are some new tools worth learning about if moving from capital expenditures to subscription models are one of the many financial questions you have regarding this new cloud world. 

https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/blog/azure-cost-management-now-general-availability-for-enterprise-agreements-and-more/  

"As enterprises accelerate cloud adoption, it is becoming increasingly important to manage cloud costs across the organization. Last September, we announced the public preview of a comprehensive native cost management solution for enterprise customers. We are now excited to announce the general availability (GA) of Azure Cost Management experience that helps organizations visualize, manage, and optimize costs across Azure."


In the world of Dynamics 365, configuration/customization/extension does not equal the old world assumptions of "custom software"

When thinking of the experiences or backgrounds needed for any specific project, don't let assumptions trip you up. These terms can help with your communications. 

 

 

Configuration – knowing of and Answering all the questions related to setting up the system for a specific customer. These include all the options under SETTINGs including but not limited to items such as turning on auditing, configuring number formats, turning on relevance search, setting up duplicate detection, configuring territories, setting fiscal year end and more. This is done on every Dynamics 365 project (hopefully) and there are more than 50 questions.

 

Customization – A functional consultants power to configure the system for specific business models such as renaming entities, adding entities, adding system charts, lists/views, adding workflows, creating business rules, formatting the data entry fields and forms, creating PowerApps, setting up relationships between entities and more. The term customization often waffles between configuration and extensions depending on who is using the term.

 

Extensions – extending the functionality of the system using developer resources and many, many, many different code options (.Net, C++, JavaScript, AngularJS, and about 30 more) and includes items such as creating an integration layer with queuing to manage external data integration (although this is shifting to configuration), adding new advanced features, adding advanced automation, extracting/manipulating and resaving data from numerous entities, onSave/onChange/onLoad have the data jump through hoops and blink, etc. The platform is built to be extended and extensions upgrade as they are built using a predefined best practices Software developer kit (SDK) from Microsoft.

 

The world of technology is deep and wonderful. 


Related Entity fields in Calculated Field Formulas: Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Customer Engagement v9.0.x.xxxx

Someone once asked my why "Blog" when there is so much information already available. My immediate answer: My blog is my knowledge base and if I can help others by sharing, I am going to share. 

To include fields from a parent or N:1 referential related entity in a calculated field use the following format.

entityschemaname.fieldschemaname

(replacing Entity schema name with your Entity Schema Name and replacing Field Schema Name with your Field Schema Name)

so for example if your publisher is set to use the prefix "abc" and you had a custom entity called (abc_customentity) that the account referenced you could use the following to add a number from the custom entity and a number in the account. The key is that little DOT 

Account 

Action

Set account abc_wholenumbercalc to 

abc_customentity.abc_wholenumberfield + account.abc_wholenumberfield

(where account.abc_wholenumbercalc is a calculated field and abc_customentity is the Custom Entities Schema Name and abc_wholenumberfield is the custom field schema name in the custom entity and account is the schema name of account and abc_wholenumberfield is a custom field in account)

 


FLIC - The little button that could change your world

At Microsoft Dynamics 365 Saturday in Boston Jerry Weinstock shared with us how he is using FLIC with Microsoft Dynamics 365. 

The idea is that you setup a FLIC button (which is a physical button) and tie it to a Microsoft Flow. The flow queries the Microsoft Dynamics 365 database, puts together a table of current information (say the top 10 opportunities) and sends the table in an e-mail to a manager. Managers who work heavily in e-mail, but who don't have time for applications might find this little configuration a true gift. 


Manual Many to Many Relationships (N:N)

There are times when a MANUAL many to many relationship is desired. One of the key reasons might be that you want to add fields to the intersecting table. Here are the steps for creating a many to many relationship. 

Step 1: Open a new or existing solution. Select Settings, Select Solutions  (How and to use solutions will be part of future post)

Open Solution

Step 2: Create the intersecting Entity. Select Entities, Select New and give the intersecting entity a name. I am going to name this example Relationship Role and I am going to configure a manual many to many relationship that captures a set of details on a relationship that one contact has to another contact. 

Intersecting Entity

Step 3: Save the new Entity.

Step 4: Add the desired fields to the new entity. I added a field "where they met" and a field called "# of years" and an option set indicating the level of relationship between the two people such as acquaintance, best friends, work associates, teammates, etc. 

Step 5: Create the Relationships with Contact. You will want to create both a 1: N and an N:1 relationship between contact and the new entity. Also if you are tracking how one contact knows another contact (my example) then you will need two N:1 relationships to the custom entity. 

ContacttoRelationshipRole

This N:1 Relationship shows up on the Relationship Role Entity as the Contact associated with the intersecting entity. 

You will also want the 1:N relationship so that you can show all the relationship roles that a contact might have. 

Relationship Role to Contact

The end result is that you can work with the Relationship Role Entity Form

RelationshipRole Form

ManytoMany

 


Help me spread the word to New Hampshire and Vermont Microsoft Dynamics 365 for CRM/CE Customers

New Hampshire and Vermont Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Customer Engagement Regional User Group

Next Meeting

  • When:  Wednesday, Feb 27, 2019 from 10:30 AM to 1:00 PM (ET) 

    Topic: All things Dynamics 365 and Document Management!

    AGENDA

    • 1/3 Vendor       Clint Higley from CRM Add-Ons will present on the documents core pack.
    • 1/3 Customer  Nick Hogan and Stephen Gavosto from BC/BS of Vermont will present on their Health Insurance Customer Service Implementation
    • 1/3 Partner      Knowledge Shared, notes from the field - An open discussion on document management using Azure Blob Storage vs. SharePoint Online 

 


NHVT RegionalUser Group - Front

NHVT RegionalUser Group - Front


DYNAMICS Peeps! Update your calendars with FOCUS #UserGroupFocus - Get your deep dive on!

 

Microsoft Dynamics 365 User Group Community FOCUS https://ugfocus.com/houston-register 

Monday, March 11, 2019
4:00 PM – 5:30 PM
Anne Stanton


Tuesday, March 12, 2019
8:00 AM – 9:30 AM

Feedback on the v9.1.x.xxxx new User Interface

Kudos to the Microsoft business application development teams for making the new user interface a joy to work with as a configuration, business focused, technical analyst (and whatever else people classify me as).

I spent the last couple of months neck deep in all that is new in v9.1.x.xxxx and it was a lot of fun.

The interface is so adoptable. It literally changes depending on your screen real estate from your tiny mobile screen all the way up to that TV in your living room. You don't have to jump around on devices, you can also use ZOOM in your browser and see it change.  

A couple of neat tricks.

  • You can use your existing forms, you do not have to create all new forms. 
  • You can use both the old interface and the new interface for your audience. (for the I like it the way it is sub-crowd)
  • You can limit what forms and views that are available by app audience.  

What is this "App" term? 

Let me take all fear from your soul. I learned to create a new app very quickly. You do have many choices and yes, I have a lot of depth of understanding and base to build on, but if you cut through all the noise you too can create an app fairly quickly. Better yet, work on a win/win with your partner to stay current and to drip change. Creating an app could be a drip change and it is worth it.


Spring 2019 is just around the corner: Dynamics 365 for CE Release Notes

Spring is just around the corner and in addition to the drip updates that continue for the Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Customer Engagement ONLINE users the semi-annual update has been documented and announced. 

Take a look at the Spring 2019 release notes


Microsoft Dynamics 365 Unified Interface - Tabs versus Sections

Microsoft Dynamics 365 has a new Unified Interface and within this interface we have new questions to ask when requirement gathering. Why? 

To increase usability it is important to understand which fields and features within a form are used most often OR which features need to be more prominent so that users remember to use them as they are ramping up on all things new or interesting.

In the new Unified Interface, the option to label and display data within a form in tabs is ever present. As such, careful consideration should be applied to what data would be better served on a tab vs. a section within a tab. Take for instance the Account Form. One option would be to separate the account form into different departments, such as sales, service and marketing; however there might be more reason to take a different approach such as using a tab for data that is used for deeper research and keeping the first tab fairly focused on most used fields. 

Options, options, options which are both incredible, powerful and neat as well as risky. 


NH/VT Upper Valley CRMUG Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Customer Engagement User Group

It is time to register for the NH/VT Upper Valley CRMUG Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Customer Engagement User Group Meeting! 

https://www.crmug.com/crmug/events/calendar?CommunityKey=6178ebc2-51fb-4a17-ab26-5b68420fd48c 

If you are familiar with www.crmug.com you can register using the above link OR send me an e-mail.

For my Albany, Boston and Montreal friends - You are also welcome to attend and are within a 2 to 3 hour driving window so perhaps an excuse to get out of the office and to do a little touring. 

 


Microsoft bringing the stack together

This week I presented Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Microsoft Azure for the XRMVirtual User Group. (www.xrmvirtual.com) I found this experience very uplifting for I was able to emphasize all of the great work that two very different Microsoft development teams working together have achieved. The ability to offer the right technology for the right need is so powerful and is a game changer for the line of business applications in so many different ways!! hashtagfun hashtagmicrosoftazure hashtagpresenter hashtagmicrosoftdynamics


Successful Delivery

In the world of soccer you will find that although everyone on the team has scored goals over the course of their career, there are very few who are consistent finishers. A finisher has a special talent for always being able to move the soccer ball over the goal line. They have a skill for being in the right place at the right time. They have the mindset and the art form. In high school, my step daughter, Janna, was an incredible finisher. 

She was always in the right place, at the right time and when the time came she put the ball over the goal line. Unfortunately,  we don't often recognize the diversity and strengths in our teams. Janna for instance was constantly judged for not being a gazelle and because of this her interest and her motivation shifted from soccer to hockey. I always considered this a great loss for the school and for her long term ability to feel good about her gift. 

The same concept applies to CRM/AnyRM projects. It is actually very hard to successfully deliver across the goal line. As projects move to Agile Scrum methodology there is a delicate balance between moving as fast as the team needs to move, while also capturing all that was built (so future teams can understand the critical details) and delivering to production successfully every 2 to 4 weeks.

The business SME's need to be engaged and trained on process while the overall user audience needs to be well positioned for what's coming. They also need have proper expectations when it comes to what level of maturity and when their requests for changes are going to be incorporated. There are also very small balls that are juggled within the immediate project team. These include dealing with unforeseen problems, refactoring needs and managing expectations and there is a very real need to understand the time that something might take. On a Dynamics 365 for CE engagement the skills needed to successfully deliver are more than being able to write code or configure the system. 

An Agile project shifts responsibility to each developer to be more rounded. If this is not possible, then perhaps a different methodology is needed, but the team needs to understand what is being asked, they need to know what approach will be used and they need to be able to present what was built in a user friendly and articulate manner. They also must be honest, transparent and not distracted by the shear nature of human against human. 

I have been on many project teams and the ones where all of the above came together is a gift! 

 


Calling all St. Louis Dynamics 365 Peeps! Oct 4th - CRMUG Chapter Meeting

I am in  St. Louis this week and I will be heading over to the CRMUG Chapter meeting on the morning of Oct 4th.

Come on over and knowledge share on the greatest platform on earth! Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Customer Engagement.

CRMUG Missouri (St. Louis) Chapter Meeting - October 4

Oct 4, 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM (CT)

Agenda:

  • Welcome & Introductions Marketing Tools
  • Fall Release – New Features
  • Summit Tips for new attendees
  • Round Table

Location

UniGroup One Premier Drive Suite 203 Fenton, MO 63026

 

 

 


Understanding the Maturity of a Feature

As Microsoft releases more and more features, modules and wonderful goodness into the Microsoft Dynamics 365 platform it is good to build out your understanding of the maturity of each feature. The maturity defines the number of layers of updates or changes that any given feature might have experienced as well as it's depth of functionality. You can also relate this to the version of a feature; although, the version is not always the deciding factor. It is possible to have a very mature version 1.0 feature. 

Why is this important? It helps to set the expectations of where the strengths and weaknesses are as you adopt the platform and extend the features. It also helps you understand and manage your expectations around what the speed of change will be with regards to a specific set of features. 

Extract from the people on your team who have worked with the platform for many, many years - You need to knowledge share around the age and growth of key features. It is also important to have these conversations so you can stretch all resources into considering alternative approaches including the experienced team members. Change is not only constant in this wild world of the Microsoft Stack, but it is also speeding up.

So how do we go about understanding maturity? 

As much as I would like to list every known feature in the system (I might save that for a future blog post), I think the key area to start with on each project is with a list of the features that are relevant. When working on a custom service/call center project you might not care as much about the sales automation processes or when working with an xRM or AnyRM project you might not need to be as concerned with cases and knowledge management.

So once you have a high level understanding of the areas of the platform that you want to leverage, make a quick chart of maturity.  There are a few items that you want to capture as follows:

1) When was the feature released? What version (your choices include version 1.2  all the way up to version 9.1.x.xxxx)

2) Understand how the feature or area of the platform fits within the Microsoft Roadmap. Is this a feature that is waning into deprecation or is it positioned for rapid growth? 

3) Acknowledge what the team knows about the strengths and weaknesses of the feature. A good brain sharing exercise. 

4) Understand the feature dependencies. Take for instance, Cases - Cases have a wide set of dependent entities and functionality that goes fairly deep from SLAs to Contracts to Knowledge Base(s) and Closures. 

5) Acknowledge what can and can't be configured. 

6) Understand which ISVs (third party vendors) have bundled offerings that extend the features so you know your choices. Take for instance Accounts - There are numerous offerings that validate addresses and that help with extracting data on accounts from the internet. There are also numerous social engagement offerings including Microsoft's own Microsoft Social Engagement (MSE) Offering.

7) Always keep an open mind for the way that you would solve a problem on your last project is not always the same way to solve the exact same problem on your current project. 

and lastly do a little deep diving into who on the product team or what group among the product team owns the feature set. This research is a key exercise for anyone attending one of the many conferences. Understanding or even meeting the product team who updates and extends features can help you better understand the vision and growth. 

 


SLAs. SLAs, SLAs - The simplicity and complexity of Service Level Agreements in #DYN365

Using SLA's with Cases

There are a number of features built into Microsoft Dynamics that support the configuration of an SLA associated with the Case Entity. When working with any of the features in Dynamics it is always a good idea to understand what the programming team has already created AND what the strengths, maturity and weaknesses of these features are. When it comes to SLA's and CASES there are layers on each.

Take for instance CASES. Cases are not just one simple entity, cases include both the case entity and the Case Resolution Entity. When a case is resolved, key information is captured in the case resolution entity. Each are interdependent. Additionally each offer SOME customization and SOME you can't change that. It is that "you can't change that" which generally trips people up.

SLA's also have layered complexity. An SLA has both FIRST RESPONSE and COMPLETION functionality. You will want to consider what rules you would like to use to indicate a first response and what rules you would like to consider for the completion. Technically these get applied as two separate line items within one SLA and when the system runs these line items they are two separate, but dependent system generated workflows.

I have tried configuring without using a first response and the system just doesn't like this configuration. At this time I always recommend a first response even if the first response doesn't mean much to the end user.

So to use SLA's with Cases

1) Setup your service Calendar

2) Setup your Holiday Calendar

3) Create your SLA and associate the calendars, Add your SLA Line items with both a First Response line item and a Final SLA Line Item.

Pretty Straight forward? Well not exactly for there are some tricks. The first trick is all about those working hours. The working hours in  the calendar can significantly impact the end date for your SLA. PowerObjects has a nice screen shot, by screen shot blog post on setting up the service calendar.  

Key items to consider.

  • Are your users working in different time zones?
  • Have your users configured their Personal Options?
  • Will there be different working times on different days?
  • Do you want to stick with the 24 hour clock? *most likely
  • What time zones are using the results of the SLAs?
  • Do you want your due date to be updated by the SLA?

The next item to consider is your holidays. You need to decide which holidays need to be applied to the Calendar used by the SLA and these need to be entered into the Holiday Calendar. If you have holidays from different countries a reconciliation will need to be decided upon or different SLAs for different countries.

One last trick on calendars: Both the Service Calendar and the Holiday Calendar do not deploy as part of your solutions so update your pre-deployment checklist to include creating these calendars before you deploy to any downstream environment.

3) SLA Line Items - SLA's do not like to stop on activity status = inactive and as such it is always better to find a different way to end your SLAs. On case they might be slightly happier, but on a number of different projects .. ending an SLA line item on activity status = inactive has tripped us up. Each SLA line item that is triggered against a case is reflected as a workflow on the case. The clauses that you defined based on trigger for success, warning and failure are converted in Wait and If conditions.

When it comes to out of the box configuration there are also decisions that need to be made around pausing an SLA. For instance if a CASE is put on HOLD, you can set system settings to pause the SLA. Take a look at Allan Mira's write up on how to pause an SLA on a case (again great screen shots and recreating screen shots seems a bit redundant) 

For more on using SLA's on CASE, here is a STEP by STEP by Vishal Grade.

Using SLA's with a Custom Entity

The Components that make up an SLA include

  •  Customer Service Calendar – defines the business hours to be used in the SLA calculation. A business can have multiple calendars to support different SLAs i.e. 24x7, 9-5 business days, Customer specific calendars
  • Entitlements – defines the agreed number of Cases or Time that has been contracted with the customer for support. Entitlements can only be associated to one SLA. An SLA can be associated to many Entitlements.
  • Service Configuration – define which statuses place an SLA on hold (shortcut to System Settings). Note that the pause and resume statuses apply to all SLAs and thus are not SLA specific.
  • Holiday Schedule – defines the dates that are considered holidays in a particular region. If you work in multiple regions then you may have multiple holiday schedules. Holiday schedules can be applied to the Customer Service Calendar to be observed.
  • Service Agreements – define the rules that apply to the agreement, when a SLA is triggered, when and what should occur if the SLA is successful, non-compliant or nearing non compliancy. (thanks to MVP Stephan for summarizing these in his insiders guide to SLAs post which is another great read)

BUT when configuring SLA's to work on CUSTOM Entities there are a number of other steps that also need to be configured.

1) The Custom Entity must be enabled for SLAs  (there is a checkbox on the Entity to enable SLAs) "A few words of caution! SLA needs a committed relationship. Once you have selected that checkbox and saved, (by the power vested in you by Dynamics CRM and the position of a configurator) SLA cannot be disabled for the entity."

2) The Custom Entity must have a relationships established with the SLA Entities (such as the SLAKPIInstance Entity)

3) You must use Enhanced SLA's with Custom Entities that need SLAs

 To configure the relationships for your Custom Entity with SLAs you can follow the Microsoft Customer Engagement Team's step by step. I have summarized it below, but there is more on the full post such as setting up timers and some key things to remember so I recommend you jump on other to the post.

  1. Enable the custom entity
  2. In the same Customization window, expand the SLA KPI Instance entity.
  3. Click 1: N Relationships.
  4. Click the New 1-to-Many Relationship button.
  5. Select custom <entity> in Related Entity dropdown. Here is a catch! As soon as you select custom entity in the Related Entity dropdown, the Name field gets auto populated to “new_ slakpiinstance_custom entity”. You can use it as it is, but you will face issues if you want to export the SLAs created in this org to an org that also has SLAs enabled for customentity. This is because while importing the SLAs, the system will attempt to create this relationship in the target org. Since there will be a relationship already existing in the target org, the import will fail. So it is strongly recommended to add a different name or change the name to a GUID (with underscores).
  6. Fill the Display Name to your taste
  7. Save and close

 

I have found that I still wish there was more documentation available on Microsoft Dynamics 365 SLAs. They are almost entire module unto themselves.

Happy SLA'ing!

 


NH/VT CRMUG Chapter Meeting: What's New in Dynamics 365

Where: Hanover, NH
When: 9-12am
Date: Thursday, November 15, 2018 
Topic: What's New in 2018 (Spring and Fall editions of Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Customer Engagement

Get out of the office, take a nice drive, come join some peers and learn about what is new in Microsoft Dynamics 365! 

Send questions, requests, difficulties or any interests in advance for even more value add!!! There is no charge for this meeting; however, if you are not a Microsoft Dynamics CRMUG Member then the number of free meetings is limited.

Are you in Boston? The Dartmouth Coach (www.dartmouthcoach.com) travels to Hanover, NH from Logan and South Station a couple of times a day.


Perceptions

I recently was out of town with a bunch of awesome girlfriends. We rented a house and enjoyed cooking, swimming and walking on the beach. On one of our beach trips Julie Yack captured this picture. She is a great photographer.

Anne Stanton - Cape Cod 2018

I was with friends, I was happy and thinking only of the moment which included sand between my toes, salt water in the air and perfect temperatures. I like the picture, but what has been interesting has been the feedback.

Some say I look Happy, Confident and Secure.

Others indicate that I look Arrogant.

Perhaps it could be considered that I am creating frustrations in those who do not happen to be on the beach or who are not happy. I am not always happy, but I was happy in this moment. I am not always confident or secure or sure of my world, but at this moment I was not thinking of these other moments.

So what are your tips and tricks for reading people, for being incredibly empathetic to their perceptions of a moment? I know that I can not make people happy (huge books on that one and many experiences) and that all I can do is be humble, and the best version of myself.

 


NH/VT Dynamics CRMUG New England User's Group Meeting - September 27th, 2018

Come help us kick off the initial meeting of the Microsoft Dynamics 365 CRMUG NH/VT New England Chapter Meeting!

  • Where: Hanover, NH
  • When: September 27, 2018
  • Time: 10:00am - 12:00pm
  • Questions: Reach out to Anne Stanton, Evan Workin or Jeff Hudgins
  • Subject: What's new in Microsoft Dynamics 365 v9.x.x.x !

Let's deep dive on what came out in the Spring 2018 release and what is about to be released as part of the

Fall 2018 Release. We will also round table questions and share industry wide experience and knowledge.

Want to help? Invite your friends, put together your questions, create a carpool, get involved!

 


Editable Grids

Have you discovered the joy of editable grids? This feature was introduced in December of 2016. Editable grid is a custom control in Microsoft Dynamics 365. 

"You can enable editable grids at the entity level to use in the main grid, or at the form level to replace read-only sub-grids (associated grids) with an editable grid." An editable grid is similar to entering data into an Excel spreadsheet and has a number of usability benefits. For instance, users can quickly enter lots of data on different records without needing to open new windows or the editable grid usage can align to business processes that include popping in and out of Microsoft Excel.

Additionally, configuration teams can adjust what a grid looks like based on a set of parameters or data.  Editable grids also support business rules and form scripting so you can apply custom business logic according to your organization's requirements.  

If you want to learn more about how to work with and configure editable grids you can reference the following article  or if you want to see some examples of how editable grids are used this TechNet Article has some interesting use cases.


Don't forget the Glossary and the overwhelming desire to over use status fields

Project Considerations

1) Start with the concept of a glossary and agree on terminology. This seems like such a trivial concept, but has huge ramifications as the systems grow and mature. If everyone agrees on terminology then when fields are named, and option sets defined, the terminology is consistent throughout the system. In fact I know of a company that has a department that defines and manages all of the option set values in every system that they release. This three person team keeps terminology consistent not only in one application, but across all applications created for internal use.  Alignment to the bigger picture and more consistency for the entire company.

2) Now about those status fields. If the status field(s) are option sets then aligning the values to a glossary offers more common understanding.  Each option has a reason and these reasons generally align to business rules. Given the sometimes difficult nature of understanding business rules, common vocabulary can help.

There is a beauty to simplicity.

So how do you simplify complex business rules? Focus the system on the people who are using it and what they care about. Complex business rules are not complex to those who work with them every day. This is their life, so make sure that business rules align to the roles of those who need and care about them.

Eliminate noise: User's do not want to see what they do not care about. Use good definitions of security to allow the system to hide what people don't need to see. This also greatly simplifies the system for their use.

Leverage the power of the out of the box ability to segregate data by business units. Business units are all about segregating data, eliminating noise, speeding up processing and so much more and although they occasionally line up to offices, defining offices is not their primary goal.

Very, very, very carefully consider why and how many status fields you are using and determine a way for the system to manage and keep these status fields updated based on normal human day to day activities.

Understand the personality types of the users in different roles. Are these people task driven? Do they like to complete a list of things to do or are they more organic givers and workers who react to the day? Make sure the system can handle multiple styles of getting work done.

Re-evaluate and Refactor as many times as is necessary to simplify the system.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Have you used Dynamics "CRM" for a while?

If you have extensions that you have upgraded or that your partner has upgraded on your behalf, you will want to schedule a review for the following reason:

"Beginning with the Dynamics 365 (8.0) release, a new OData 4 endpoint was added to the Dynamics 365 application stack. This endpoint is known as the Web API. The Web API provides a development experience that can be used across a wide variety of programming languages, platforms, and devices. The Web API is intended to replace the CRM 2011 endpoint, also known as the SOAP endpoint, for accessing the Dynamics 365 organization web service and other provided web services."

"As of the release of Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online 2016 Update 1 and Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016 Service Pack 1 (8.1.0), the CRM 2011 endpoint has been deprecated. The 2011 endpoint will be removed some time after the release of Dynamics 365 version 9. We plan to provide updates to the Dynamics 365 SDK assemblies and tools over the next several minor releases, retargeting them to use the Web API instead of the 2011 endpoint."

"We strongly encourage developers to use the Web API for accessing Dynamics 365 web services when writing new application code. You must update existing applications to use the Dynamics 365 Web API for accessing Dynamics 365 web services between now and the removal of the 2011 endpoint. When you develop plug-ins and custom workflow activities, continue to link those projects to the Dynamics 365 SDK assemblies. The Dynamics 365 SDK assemblies will be updated to use the Web API. This update will be fully transparent to you and any code written using the SDK itself will be supported."

 

"Additional details will be published in future SDK releases. For more information about the Web API, see Use the Microsoft Dynamics 365 Web API "


Prior CRMUG Board Member

I have had the pleasure of learning from and participating in some many awesome events and I realized that sometimes I need to take a minute and say THANK YOU!

This is a shout out to the International Dynamics Communities CRM User Group! Thank You for the fun, learning, sharing and empowerment!  

CRMUG Board Member

 

 


A One Inch PowerPoint?

So I was going through my old files and I found the largest PowerPoint I ever generated. I was shocked to see that it was an inch thick! It was presented in the Ingram Micro Solution Center and it had a core focus of Microsoft Dynamics CRM. 

Let's face it, there is a lot to talk about surrounding the industry of awesome Customer Engagement from marketing to service to sales to business to business. Twist in the actual application and all that you can do with the platform and you just can't learn everything in a few quick years. So value your experienced resources. 

CRMPresentation

 


Areas in the World of Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement

Put on the hat "Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Customer Engagement" and the dimensions explode. There are so many different angles to think about such as 

  • The Product
  • The CRM Industry
  • The Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) and their extensions, applications and products
  • The Project Methodologies
  • The Communities
  • The Support Resources
  • The Training Options
  • Certifications
  • Industry Uses
  • Usability and Adoption 
  • Integrations
  • Mobility
  • IoT
  • CRM -> ERP : Bridging the teams, the products, the features and more
  • Failures and the Why behind them 
  • Working with the Microsoft teams (product, support, services, executives, sales, etc.)

and the list goes on! 

I recently completed a Solution Architecture Assessment engagement and was amazed at all of the categories of discussion and knowledge sharing that bubbled out of a three month, intense, team empowerment project.

So where to start??

 


Enterprise Customers! Ready to Expand? Embrace the Viral Trial for your other Departments and Groups within your ORG #Dyn365

Now Live in the US (and soon to come Globally)!

Dynamics 365 Trial Sign Up Service & Customer Engagement Viral Trial

Have you looked at the new trial? Go ahead and sign up to test out the service for all Dynamics 365 apps + viral sign up for Customer Engagement in the United States. This includes Operations, Financials, Sales, Customer Service, Field Service, and Project Service Automation.

What’s New?

  • Simplified sign up – business email & phone number
    • All apps utilize Microsoft Office viral sign up framework.
  • Information Worker (IW) sign up – IW’s can now sign up for a trial and add it to an existing tenant or create a new unmanaged tenant.
  • Prospects are joined together in one tenant based on the domain of their work email address for easy collaboration and management.
  • Customer Engagement prospects can now have up to 5 trial instances with 5 users each at any one time.
  • Customer Engagement trials are still licensed for Enterprise Plan 1, but you can choose a single app or all to trial.

Things you should know: 

  • No consumer or government email addresses (outlook.com, gmail.com, .gov, .mil, etc.) are accepted in the viral framework.

 

 

  • All members of a viral trial must have the same email domain.
  • The first user to create a trial instance is the trial or instance owner.
  • Review the FAQ for all details.
  • The traditional admin based sign up you all know is still available and should be used if you plan to customize a trial for a customer to join (since you don’t share an email domain.)

Trial links:

 


Developers? Are you ramping up as a Microsoft Dynamics 365 Guru? #msdyn365

Start at the Dynamics 365 for Customer Engagement Developer Center

The CRM Developer Center https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/dynamics/crm/crmdevelopercenter.aspx

Download the SDK https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=50032

You also have access to a full suite of training materials by logging into Customer Source https://mbs.microsoft.com/customersource/northamerica

Or if you are a partner or Microsoft employee

The Partner Learning Portal https://mbspartner.microsoft.com/Landing

 

You can also reference blogs and link lists within the world of blogs to find even more resources and training such as the Virtual XRM User Group

Lastly there are a set of YOUTUBE VIDEOS that can help, and the Microsoft Dynamics YouTube Channel

like these

XRM in a Nutshell I: Defining the Data-centric Business Application built using Dynamics CRM https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XbmYhAy3ouM 

and this one https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G_WPaHZZk7k

And this one https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L7MRO7ttRIM